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Let's Stay Together

Updated: May 29, 2023

“Let me say that since baby

Since we’ve been together

Ooh, loving you forever is all I need….”

“Jr. Pearl, I need you to run down the street to Van Goh’s ear, get me the new Tina Turner and hurry back. Here’s a ten. Don’t forget to bring me back my change!” I loved record shopping just like he did. I ran the half block to Van Goh’s Ear, located next to Lafitte’s, where Tina”s new album cover was prominently displayed on the counter next to the cash register. She was wearing her suede leather mini-dress. I pulled my brother’s ten out of my pocket to pay as the man put the record in my white shopping bag. He gave me back a five and some change. I shoved it in my pocket and ran back the half block and the two flights of stairs to the apartment we shared at 818 Bourbon Street. I barely closed the 10-foot door to run to the stereo in the living room.

“Let me say that since baby……….”

I can’t tell you what those words coming out of this woman's mouth did to my 17-year-old heart. Our living room was electrified with Tina’s voice.

Every Sunday, we awoke to the competition of Sam Harris’ “Over the Rainbow” and “Let’s Stay Together.” The bartenders took turns with these two songs and Sylvester’s ex-backup singers, Martha and Izora, the Weather Girls' “It’s Raining Men,” to see who would win for the loudest.

Sunday mornings are and will always be my favorite day in the French Quarter. People are still asleep or just going home from partying. Every Sunday, there was a theatre right down below that we hung out of our front window, drinking coffee to witness the whole Fellini-esque circus.

The Ike and Tina Turner Review, The Dew Drop Inn and the Chitlin' Circuit

Segregation was at it's peak in the fifties and sixties, even in the music venues. This was when Little Rickard and Elvis were both beginning their careers.. The black wotked what was called the Chitlin’ Circuit which served people of colour. In the south, they weren't always allowed food served out the kitchen door.

Often they were terrorized and told to get out of town.

Mary Wilson in her book, “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme” writes about the bus filled with the stars from Motown or Dick Clark’s Cavalcade of Stars being shot at. The performers were trying to get back on the bus when a group of men in white sheets started shooting. They ran for cover on the bus and to get away from there when Mary Wells collapsed on the stairs of the bus. Mary Wells was a big girl, and refused to get up to let everyone else on the bus. She just kept screaming that she was shot.

“The Dew Drop Inn was located at 2836 LaSalle Street and was a former hotel and nightclub that operated between 1939 and 1970 and is noted as "the most important and influential club" in the development of rhythm and blues music in the city. It was probably the first club to be integrated welcoming blacks, whites, and gays.

Frank G. Painia (1907–1972) established a barbershop on LaSalle Street in the late 1930s. He began selling refreshments to workers at the nearby Magnolia Housing Project [1][2]. Then he expanded his premises to include a bar and hotel, which opened as the Dew Drop Inn in April 1939.[2] During World War II, Painia also started booking bands for concerts in the city and frequently had musicians staying at his hotel. He started putting on entertainment in the hotel lounge before developing it into a dancehall, which opened in 1945.[3][4]

Nicknamed "the Groove Room," the Dew Drop Inn was reported in October 1945 by the Louisiana Weekly to be "New Orleans' swankiest nightclub" [5] and began featuring visiting musicians and stars of color because Caucasian establishments wouldn’t book them or let them stay in their hotels. The club attracted star performers in the 1950s and 1960s, including Ray Charles, Ike, and Tina. Otis Redding, the king and queen, James Brown, and Little Richard, who wrote a song, "Dew Drop Inn," about the venue. The club's MCs included blues singer Joseph "Mr. Google Eyes" August and drag queen Patsy Valdalia (born Irving Ale, 1921–1982), who organized and hosted the annual New Orleans Gay Ball, held at the club every Halloween.”

The hotel provided a safe place for the entertainers, black, white and gay to stay as well,

The Soul Bowl 1970

aring of an outdoor concert held at Tulane. It was held at Tulane Stadium on Oct. 24, 1970, and featured a fantastic lineup headlined by James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, Isaac Hayes, Junior Walker, and the All-Stars. Also performing were the rock groups Pacific Gas and Electric and Rare Earth. Radio personality Larry McKinley was a master of ceremonies. Tickets were $5 in advance and $7.50 at the gate. For all my gay following in the know, I heard the real show stopper was Yvonne Fair, James Brown’s girlfriend, and backup singer at the time, who tore the place down.

Tina at the Blue Room

sources: Youtube, Wilkipedia, and Times Picayune

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